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NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament 1st Round Preview: (1) North Carolina vs Monmouth

Everything you need to know about the Tar Heels and Hawks faceoff this Sunday

North Carolina Athletics

The 10,000 Foot View

Date and Time: Saturday, 12 PM ET

Location: Dorrance Field, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Network: ESPNU

LaxRef Win Probability: 92.1% North Carolina

Your Guys Anticipation Level: Low

The Nitty-Gritty Numbers

Numbers Bonanza

THE STATS North Carolina Monmouth
THE STATS North Carolina Monmouth
Adjusted Offensive Eff. 42.8% (1st) 25.1% (44th)
Adjusted Defensive Eff. 28.3% (31st) 28.2% (28th)
Adjusted FO% 59.4% (14th) 63.5% (7th)
Clearing Percentage 88.0% (15th) 88.6% (9th)
Ground Balls Per Game 35.62 (7th) 35.30 (9th)

he Key Match-Ups

  • North Carolina Defense vs Monmouth Offense
  • The Tar Heels are going to score. They’re probably going to score close to 20. I think that would be the case whether Monmouth was 28th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency like they are or 15th or maybe even 10th. There are only a select few defenses in the country who can stop the Heels from getting there’s. So UNC will score a bunch. How does Monmouth keep it close and give themselves the slimmest of chances to pull off the biggest upset in tournament history? Score right back. And North Carolina’s defense can be prone to that. They had rough days at the office with regard to defense against High Point earlier in the year or against Virginia in their rematch. Despite improvements lately, they still rank only 31st in the country in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency; 3rd in the ACC but well behind the Top 2 in Notre Dame and Duke. In theory that’s the Hawks area to strike. However Monmouth’s offense is not particularly explosive, they’re only 31st in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and as a team they only shoot 25.6%, 49th in the country. Both of those have to be way better. It’s going to take a season best day shooting and capitalizing if Monmouth has a chance to exploit the one weakness in the Carolina Blue machine.
  • In Between The Lines
  • This was the most interesting thing I found while researching this game. Monmouth is Top 10 in all three (!) of Adjusted FO%, Clearing, and Groundballs per game. How many other teams can say that? None. The Hawks were a part of a closed circuit in the MAAC, but nonetheless that is an extremely impressive thing to say. And it gives me reason to think this matchup could be closer than expected. Carolina will likely win and win going away; but a big part of the Heels success has been their dominant blend of great faceoff play, strong groundball work, strong clearing, and a ferocious ride that for my money is the best in the country. Put that together and you get a unit and team between the lines that causes utter havoc and nightmares for opponents. But Monmouth is also excellent in clearing, faceoffs, and groundballs. Will Carolina be their biggest test in that regard all year? With certainty. If the step up in competition wilts those parts of Monmouth’s game, then this could be a really, really ugly scoreline. If not, it wouldn’t shock me to see the MAAC Champs keep it respectable.